HOUSTON - A local stroke survivor encourages women to advocate for their health! Kimberly Phipps-Nichol is teaming up with the American Heart Association during this National Stroke Awareness Month.
Since 1 in 5 women have a stroke and are at higher risk of dying from one than men, we need to know the warning signs!
Kimberly launched a company called RoKi Design and is known for her creative designs. She makes custom scarves, by producing art on silk. Everything was going well for Kimberly until she was speaking at a meeting when her mind just went blank.
"They kept asking questions, and all I could say was I don't know. Because it's a healthcare facility that I was designing, the doctor in the room came over, got in front of me, grabbed my hands and said Kimberly what's your birthday. I don't know," recalls Kimberly.
Luckily they got the red flag that something was severely wrong, and others jumped into action to help.
"I'm really grateful because the general contractor who was in the room, not only knew me well but had gone through the OSHA job site training specifically for stroke, and so he called 911 and immediately asked for a mobile stroke unit. That was such a differentiator for me. I didn't even know what mobile stroke units were. I didn't know they existed. I didn't know anything about them," says Kimberly.
Medics raced to Kimberly’s rescue and she says she'll be eternally grateful for their quick actions to get her to the hospital and save her life.
"The neurologist, holding up my MRI shows me the blood clot, the size of my thumb, in the central vein that helps empty the blood out from the brain, and he said you had 15 minutes. 15 minutes, and how grateful I should be that somebody knew to call for a mobile stroke unit at the right place at the right time," smiles Kimberly.
They were able to give her a clot-busting medication known as TPA just in the nick of time. Now she's spreading the word about the signs and symptoms of stroke.
The American Stroke Association shares this advice: Spot a stroke FAST! Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.
Young women can even have a stroke. Pregnancy and birth control pills can increase the chances. Atrial fibrillation and migraines with aura can also raise the risk.
Doctors say if you smoke, quit and keep diabetes under control. These can lower your risks of stroke.
Kimberly continues her mission, by raising crucial funds for the American Heart Association. She's a nominee for their Leaders for Life Campaign.
"I'm trying to raise $15,000 because trying to raise $1,000 for every minute that the neurologist said that I had, because 15 was so important to me," states Kimberly.
She's also using her art to help raise funds, like a blooming anatomical heart on a scarf.
"It's really important to try to give back in multiple ways where feasible, so I always try to have my scarf nearby when I'm talking about this because it's so fun," says Kimberly.
Doctors say it’s important to take care of yourself to prevent a stroke. In Kimberly’s heart in bloom scarf, she includes the Simple 7: manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, lose weight, stop smoking.